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The Decline of Western Civilization

The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years

Friday, April 4 | 7:30 pm
Special guests: Penelope Spheeris, Rikki Rockett (Poison), Riki Rachtman and Nadir D'Priest (London).
Moderator: DJ Will (KNAC, That Metal Show)

New 35mm print
Penelope Spheeris delves into the clubs and bars of late 80's Hollywood to reveal the absurd heights (or lows?) of rockstar debauchery in this second part of the director's Decline of Western Civilization trilogy. The Metal Years finds marquee acts such as Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Kilmister, Poison and Kiss’s Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley sharing the screen with such aspiring bands as Odin, London and Lizzy Borden. Interviewing her subjects with disarming candor, Spheeris documents the booze-fueled braggadocio and lurid theatrics of musicians blinkered by their aspirations to achieve platinum-certified immortality. Throughout her 30-year directing career, Spheeris has worked in both studio pictures (such as the smash hit Wayne’s World) and independent productions. The Decline trilogy, which began in 1981 when Spheeris filmed Los Angele's punk scene, remains an indelible landmark of American cinema.

1988, 93 minutes, color, 35mm | Directed by Penelope Spheeris; with Aerosmith, Kiss, London, Megadeth, Motörhead, Odin, Ozzy Osbourne, Poison, and W.A.S.P.

Grey Gardens

Wednesday, April 9 | 7:30 pm
Special guest: Albert Maysles, in conversation with Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom)

The fascinating eccentricities of the Beales – widow “Big Edie” and “Little Edie,” her flamboyant daughter – are forever preserved in this bittersweet cinéma vérité classic, newly restored by the Criterion Collection and the Academy Film Archive and screening in a brand-new DCP. Cousins of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Beales share a crumbling, 28-room manor not far from the East Hampton shore. In their self-exile, they have created a micro-climate steeped in memories of long-faded glamour: “Little Edie” is a former model, while both Beales were once belles of the Manhattan social set. Thanks to the unobtrusive gaze of trailblazing documentarians Albert and David Maysles, which honors the unconventionality and eloquence of these two unforgettable women, the Beales have been plucked from their own private universe and become touchstones in the history of cinema and American culture. Once called “the best American cameraman” by Jean-Luc Godard, Albert Maysles directed over 20 short and feature-length documentaries with his brother David, including the Oscar-nominated short Christo's Valley Curtain in 1973. In 2005, Albert founded the Harlem-based Maysles Documentary Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exhibition and production of documentary films.

1976, 94 minutes, color, DCP | Directed by Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer; with Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie.

The Decline of Western Civilization

Friday, April 18 | 7:30 pm
*Special guests: Penelope Spheeris, Lee Ving (Fear), Kirsten Patches (Naked Aggression), and Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks, Bad Religion).
Moderator: Mark Toscano (Academy Film Archive)

Standby Only

Director Penelope Spheeris's blistering depiction of the early 1980s Los Angeles punk scene remains a classic in the cult film canon, despite never being available on DVD. Spheeris's groundbreaking documentary captures some of the scene's most seminal bands at their sweaty, ferocious peak, onstage and off. From OC hardcore progenitors Black Flag and Circle Jerks to Hollywood heavyweights Germs, X and the seminally provocative Fear, Spheeris offers a mosher's-eye view of the era's greats. Spheeris also grants ample screen time to the fans and fellow travelers of this "high speed, high volume" scene, interviewing them with unflinching directness.

1981, 100 minutes, color and black and white, 35mm | Directed by Penelope Spheeris; with Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs and X.

*Q&A between both screenings.

The Decline of Western Civilization: Part III

Friday, April 18 | 9:40 pm
Standby Only

New 35mm print
Penelope Spheeris returns to the punk scene she first documented in 1981 and finds new bands equally as inflammatory as their predecessors. The powerful final chapter in Spheeris’s Decline of Western Civilization trilogy again not only focuses on these newer underground bands – such as the politically-charged Naked Aggression – but also the concertgoers and club owners that sustain them. Spheeris pays special attention to their fans, particularly the young and homeless “gutterpunks.” Raised in broken homes, they live drink to drink, squatting in derelict Hollywood buildings and panhandling, or “spanging,” on Hollywood Boulevard to get by.  

1998, 86 minutes, color, 35mm | Directed by Penelope Spheeris; with Final Conflict, Litmus Green, Naked Aggression and The Resistance.


Bing Theater
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

$5 General admission
$3 Academy members, LACMA Film Club members and students.

*These prices include admission to both films screening on April 18

If an event is standby only, a line will form at the Hammer Building Ticket Office two hours before the event begins. Guests in the standby line will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis if any tickets become available.
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